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A group of hooded Spanish unionists last night used a long pole to remove the 'yellow ribbon' banner hanging on the facade of the Barcelona city hall - and then they tried to do the same thing on the other public building opposite, the Catalan government's Palau de la Generalitat. They got into a tussle with Barcelona city police over the banner they had removed before the officers managed to recover it. Shortly before ten o'clock this morning, the city council's yellow ribbon had been replaced. 

The raid by the hooded group can be seen in a video uploaded to Twitter from an account called 'Los de Artos', which posts material in favour of Spanish unity. When the city police asked what they were doing, the group members said that the banner was not supposed to be there because "a judge had ordered it", referring to the order given by Spain's Central Electoral Board for the Catalan government to remove yellow ribbons and pro-independence estelada flags from its facilities. 

Police from both the city police force and the Mossos d'Esquadra asked the group members for identification, but no one was arrested.

Another video shows what happened after the unionist group managed to tear down the yellow ribbon from the facade: a tug-of-war with city police over the banner, which ends up ripped. In the video, police officers say that the banner is owned by the city council and can't be taken away. "We're not defending anything, you can't take this", says an officer. "This is disobeying a judge," replies one of the hooded unionists.

Municipal sources told the ACN agency that the incident took place at around 1:30am and stated that the banner would be put back, commenting that the city council had not received any request from the Central Electoral Board, unlike the Catalan government. The 'Los de Artos' tweet contains an explicit incitement to others to "do the same thing" in their own towns.

The raid followed Spanish nationalist threats to remove the yellow ribbon from the Catalan government's central Barcelona palace once the Central Electoral Board's ultimatum for removal of the symbols had expired. For its part, the Catalan government decided yesterday not to withdraw the ribbons.

Yellow ribbons have been adopted as symbols of solidarity with the exiled and imprisoned pro-independence Catalan leaders since 2017. The use of the symbol goes beyond supporters of Catalan independence, as shown by its use by the Barcelona city council, which does not have a pro-independence position.   

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